THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
It is an interesting trend in horror these days, the pull away from modernism and the move towards nostalgia. It is as if the ’80s and ’70s are hallowed horror ground where all the classic horror films were made. While I can appreciate a move towards realism and better film-making, well, the fact is that there are as many bad films as good ones from those eras, or heck, any era. The thing I like about THOTD though is that it doesn’t ape an era so much as capture that feel and use it as set dressing for a very good, very scary film. When you can do that, that is when you understand what you are doing.
In THOTD a young college girl has just gotten a new apartment that is just out of her reach financially and she needs some fast cash immediately. As luck would have it she sees a flier on campus for a family that needs someone to babysit their child. She calls the number and, after getting initially stood up, finally makes the date to meet the family that very night. She saves, she is told, what was a very important night for the husband and wife, and as such, she is paid very, very well for her trouble and time. The girl’s friend gets a strange feeling from the couple though, and that is held true when the girl is told that she won’t in fact be babysitting a child but an old woman, the mother of the wife. She agrees to the job just the same, the money too good to give up, once negotiated, and the friend leaves, set to return later to pick up her friend. The evening passes without incident as the girl makes herself at home but as he curiosity about the mysterious old woman staying upstairs grows, the danger in the house grows, and it becomes clear that she may part of a plot bigger than she could have dreamed of in her worst nightmares.
A very well made film with a lot of atmosphere and a wonderful pace, this is yet another example of someone getting it right. While I am starting to question all these throwback movies, it is great to see someone nail a period but not rely on that. With great acting, a scary premise, and a wonderful follow-through, there is reason this film has generated a lot of buzz. Scary without relying on cheap thrills or gore (though it gets sticky), this is a great, fun movie that would have been a fantastic Halloween release. As it stands, it will become a fan favorite once it reaches home video and will hopefully get even more attention.
9 out of 10